Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making
I recently rescued a whole stack of my husband’s old t-shirts from certain death in the trashcan. There were a few small holes in all of them, but the vast majority of the fabric in each was still usable. After I got over my initial shock and dismay that he would throw away potentially useful crafting materials,  I got right to work upcycling the t-shirts into fancy new panties.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

To make your own snazzy upcycled underpants, you will need the following materials:
* Cardboard for pattern-making (Cereal boxes or old cardboard boxes work great. If you don’t have cardboard, you can also use tracing or pattern-making paper.)
* Scissors//X-Acto knife for cutting out pattern
* Fabric scissors
* Seam ripper
* Pencil
* An old, well-fitting pair of underpants for pattern-making (You must be willing to sacrifice this pair for the sake of the project, though you can always try to sew them back together when you’re done.)
* An old t-shirt
* Stick pins
* 1/4″ Braided elastic
* Sewing machine and/or serger

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

1. With your seam ripper, take apart the old pair of underpants, and pin the pieces to the cardboard. (If using tracing paper, use fabric weights to spread out the pieces.) Make sure the underpants you choose for your pattern are still stretchy enough to maintain shape, so the pattern is as accurate as possible—now is not the time to really excavate your underwear drawer!

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

2. Trace the fabric pieces onto the cardboard.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

3. Cut around the traced edges to make your pattern.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

4. Spread out the t-shirt, ironing if necessary to remove any wrinkles.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

5. Arrange the patterns on the shirt, making sure to center any designs you’d like to keep.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

6. Trace the patterns onto the t-shirt.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

7. Using fabric scissors, cut out each piece.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

8. Using your serger (with the knife disabled) or a sewing machine with a zigzag stitch, attach elastic to the top of the front and back pieces of fabric.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

9. Sew the liner into the front piece and finish the edges of the leg holes with the serger, securing the liner in place. If using a sewing machine, stitch elastic around the leg holes with a zigzag stitch to secure the liner.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

10. Attach the front and the back pieces by stitching the back of the liner on the front piece to the bottom of the back piece. If you’re not using a serger, zigzag stitch the bottom of the front piece and the bottom of the back piece together, but don’t sew the liner into the seam (leave the back of the liner loose, so it will cover the back seam). To finish, stitch the  sides together using the serger or a zigzag stitch. The side seams should be on the inside of the finished underpants.

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants | The Zen of Making

Enjoy your upcycled underpants!

22 thoughts on “Tutorial: Upcycle a T-Shirt to Underpants

  1. This is a really super idea, and GREAT tutorial – I've never seen one so complete and clear. Thanks for sharing. Another great use for the serger! I will definitely try, although I can almost guarantee I won't be sharing photos on my blog! :) Glad you did, tho!

  2. I have talked about doing this for over a year, nice affordable undies are almost impossible to find, by old t shirts are. My friends thaought I was crazy and evn offered to buy me undies…They did not understand the reativeness of this, so my hats off to this person who posted this. One artist/crafter to another.

  3. I love this repurposing project.  One I did years ago was to take thick cotton T-shirts that the print faded from multiple washings, but the cotton was clean and bright white. I cut out a diaper pattern for form fitted diapers and made a dozen with a doubled cotton crotch. 

  4.  i love repurposing stuff. I recently had to get rid of a tee that I love(dryer accident). didn't know what to do with it so I cut out the pic and used the rest for scraps. still have the pic (too big for undies) got the wheels turning though! thanks for sharing!

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